This is the post I put on the Women of Email Facebook page today:
Hey ladies, I think I’m going to have to leave this group, I don’t think it’s for me any more.
I’d love to be a part of something that champions women in the industry, celebrates successes and helps give a leg up to things like speaking at conferences – after all we’re not always as forthcoming as our male counterparts.
However, what I don’t want to be a part of is something that demands special treatment from the world because of our gender. I don’t want to wonder whether I’ve been asked to be a part of something because they’ve been pressured into having a token female, or to avoid backlash from a community. I want to be asked because they want to hear what I have to say, regardless of my gender.
I don’t think there’s ever been a deliberate attempt by email conference organisers to overlook women speakers, historically I’ve been asked a few times, but always declined due to fear of public speaking – something I’m now looking to overcome. I think it’s just that women are less likely to volunteer, and there’s less of us who are well-known enough to BE asked in the first place. And also, there are probably more males than females in the industry (I have no stats to back this up) and so, statistically speaking, there will always be more men than women speaking at conferences – it’s a representation of real life.
On the whole I don’t think there’s a lot of discrimination in our industry. I think we’re lucky, the people I speak to in the email world are all lovely people who want to share in successes and misery of our work regardless of sex, colour or nationality. Get on twitter and slack and speak to the other #emailgeeks and I’m sure you’ll find the same thing.
I don’t know if anyone else is aware, but I know that WoE has already got itself a bit of a bad reputation within the email community, and not just amongst the men. There’s a perception that all that happens is self-pity, man-hating and moaning, rather than what I’m sure was the original intention to be positively raising the profile of the fabulous individuals within the group.
Maybe it’s a cultural thing, maybe in the USA things are very different to here in the UK – or maybe I’ve just been lucky with my encounters. I’ll hang around to see people’s comments, replies and opinions on this (assuming I don’t get kicked out ?), but I will be leaving after that as I just don’t think our visions are aligned.
I wish them luck, and I really do hope they help other women in the community – it’s just not for me.